PARENTS have stepped up the fight to save a school from becoming an academy.

St Anne’s Catholic Primary School, in Pinkerton Road, was slammed by the education watchdog Ofsted in a recent inspection, which triggered the process of turning the school into an academy.

The school was rated as ‘inadequate’ after an inspection in November last year – having previously been rated as ‘outstanding.’

However, parents have launched a petition to put pressure on the Department for Education to make sure the facility does not become an academy.

With more than 500 signatures, parents are now appealing directly the secretary of state for education, Damian Hinds MP, to overturn the decision.

Elaine Ashcroft, a parent with two children at St Anne’s, said: “We’ve written to the school’s governing body, Hampshire County Council, the regional school’s commissioner and the Diocese of Portsmouth.

“The regional school’s commissioner explained that only the secretary of state can revoke the order but, at the same time, recommended that the secretary of state not read the governors’ letter.

“This seems both farcical and unfair. How can the secretary of state make a decision if he’s not been informed of the situation and not allowed to consider the evidence?

“It feels like a stitch-up and ridiculous bureaucracy at its worst.”

It is the law that any school which is rated as ‘inadequate’ must go through the academy process and the only person who can change that decision is the secretary of state for education.

If the academisation goes through, it is planned that St Anne’s will become an academy sponsored by the Mother Teresa Multi Academy Trust in Aldershot.

Basingstoke’s MP, Maria Miller, said that there seems to be poor communication between the sponsors and the parents.

She said: “I have been in contact with the regional school’s commissioner to raise the concerns of the handling of the situation.

“St Anne’s has an excellent reputation in our town, and I have no doubt that the issues raised in the Ofsted inspection can be rectified.”

A spokesperson from the Diocese of Portsmouth added: “The catholic Diocese of Portsmouth is committed to working with the community of St. Anne’s to ensure that it provides a good education for the children in its care.

“The decision was not taken by the diocese and has no authority to revoke the academy order.”